Rainbow Valley is one of the most strikingly beautiful natural
features of Central Australia, its iconic sandstone bluffs and cliffs
being extremely photogenic. These free standing cliffs form part of the
James Range, and are particularly attractive in the early morning and
late afternoon when the rainbow-like rock bands are highlighted.
The coloured rock bands in the sandstone cliffs were caused by
water. In earlier wetter times, the red iron of the sandstone layers
was dissolved and drawn to the surface during the Dry Season. The red
minerals formed a dark iron surface layer with the leached white layers
This dark red capping is hard and weathers slowly, whereas the
softer white sandstone below weathers quickly into loose sand.
Weathering and erosion are also responsible for the valley shape, where
sandstone blocks have been eroded into rock faces and squared towers.
A 2km walk (orange markers) along a creek through palm groves leads
to a stairway and return along the gorge rim. A longer 5km walk (blue)
takes you up over the rim with fantastic views and then down into the
upper valley. Walking downstream you can get some shade and maybe the
breeze might come up and get funnelled down the valley. This track then
meets up with the orange walk.